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In 10 Years, Your iPhone Won’t Be a Phone Anymore

Siri will be the conductor of a suite of devices, all tracking your interactions and anticipating your next moves.

Apple Inc. will still sell an iPhone, but expect the device to morph into a suite of apps and services, enhanced with AI and AR, part of a ‘body area network’ of devices, batteries and sensors.

writes: It’s 2027, and you’re walking down the street, confident you’ll arrive at your destination even though you don’t know where it is. You may not even remember why your device is telling you to go there.

There’s a voice in your ear giving you turn-by-turn directions and, in between, prepping you for this meeting. Oh, right, you’re supposed to be interviewing a dog whisperer for your pet-psychiatry business. You arrive at the coffee shop, look around quizzically, and a woman you don’t recognize approaches. A display only you can see highlights her face and prints her name next to it in crisp block lettering, Terminator-style. Afterward, you’ll get an automatically generated transcript of everything the two of you said.

As the iPhone this week marks the 10th anniversary of its first sale, it remains one of the most successful consumer products in history. But by the time it celebrates its 20th anniversary, the “phone” concept will be entirely uprooted: That dog-whisperer scenario will be brought to you even if you don’t have an iPhone in your pocket.

Sure, Apple AAPL 0.45% may still sell a glossy rectangle. (At that point, iPhones may also be thin and foldable, or roll up into scrolls like ancient papyri.) But the suite of apps and services that is today centered around the physical iPhone will have migrated to other, more convenient and equally capable devices—a “body area network” of computers, batteries and sensors residing on our wrists, in our ears, on our faces and who knows where else. We’ll find ourselves leaving the iPhone behind more and more often.

Trying to predict where technology will be in a decade may be a fool’s errand, but how often do we get to tie up so many emerging trends in a neat package?

Apple is busy putting ever more powerful microprocessors, and more wireless radios, in every one of its devices. Read the rest of this entry »

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How the CIA Allegedly Turns Everyday Devices into High-Tech Spy Weapons

Some of the computer programs target the iOS software that runs Apple iPhones as well as Google’s Android operating system, which does the same for phones built by Samsung, HTC and Sony, WikiLeaks said.

The “weaponized” software also reportedly provides techniques to defeat the encryption abilities of popular apps including WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram and Wiebo, which claim to supply users with secure and private communications.

One program, known as “Weeping Angel,” can even be used to infect Samsung “smart” TVs and covertly activate their built-in microphones to record conversations and then transmit them over the internet, WikiLeaks said.

[Read the full story here, at New York Post]

The documents also reveal that the CIA as of 2014 was “looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks,” WikiLeaks said.

“The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations,” WikiLeaks suggested.

Although it posted online nearly 9,000 documents and files related to the Orwellian tools — a cache it called “Year Zero — WikiLeaks said it had decided to hold off on releasing the actual software.

“WikiLeaks has carefully reviewed the ‘Year Zero’ disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of ‘armed’ cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should be analyzed, disarmed and published,” the hack clearinghouse said in a press release.

There is nothing in the WikiLeaks documents to suggest that the CIA — which is charged with obtaining foreign intelligence for national security purposes — uses any of these devices to spy on American citizens.

The CIA refused to confirm or deny the authenticity of the WikiLeaks information, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer wouldn’t comment, saying it “has not been fully evaluated.”

A retired CIA operative told The Post that the WikiLeaks disclosure could cripple the agency’s high-tech surveillance capabilities.

“This essentially gives our enemies a playbook on how we go about our clandestine cyber-operations,” the former agent said.

“This will be bad for the agency. They will have to re-examine its procedures for doing this type of work.”

Cybersecurity experts said the material appeared genuine.

Jake Williams of Rendition InfoSec, who has experience dealing with government hackers, noted the files’ repeated references to operation security.

“I can’t fathom anyone fabricated that amount of operational security concern,” he said. “It rings true to me.” Read the rest of this entry »


Feminists Complain: If You Sexually Harass Siri on Your iPhone, She Doesn’t Fight Back! 

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Siri wasn’t programmed to be a Social Justice Warrior. Feminists want to change that.

Hank Berrien reports: A woman writing for Quartz.com laments that bots such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Google Home exhibit signs of submissiveness that not only reflect the feelings of dominance among men but also reinforce the concept that women are made to be submissive.

“People often comment on the sexism inherent in these subservient bots’ female voices, but few have considered the real-life implications of the devices’ lackluster responses to sexual harassment. By letting users verbally abuse these assistants without ramifications, their parent companies are allowing certain behavioral stereotypes to be perpetuated.”

[Also see – Yeah, Siri Was Asking for It by Jonah Goldberg ,at The Corner]

Leah Fessler writes, “People often comment on the sexism inherent in these subservient bots’ female voices, but few have considered the real-life implications of the devices’ lackluster responses to sexual harassment. By letting users verbally abuse these assistants without ramifications, their parent companies are allowing certain behavioral stereotypes to be perpetuated.”

[Read the full story here, at Daily Wire]

Uh-oh.

“By letting users verbally abuse these assistants without ramifications, their parent companies are allowing certain behavioral stereotypes to be perpetuated.”

And this: “Justifications abound for using women’s voices for bots: high-pitched voices are generally easier to hear, especially against background noise; fem-bots reflect historic traditions, such as women-operated telephone operator lines; small speakers don’t reproduce low-pitched voices well. These are all myths. The real reason? Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google Home have women’s voices because women’s voices make more money.”

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“People tend to perceive female voices as helping us solve our problems by ourselves, while they view male voices as authority figures who tell us the answers to our problems.”

And the usual false statistics: “Even if we’re joking, the instinct to harass our bots reflects deeper social issues. In the US, one in five women have been raped in their lifetime, and a similar percentage are sexually assaulted while in college alone; over 90% of victims on college campuses do not report their assault.” Read the rest of this entry »


China Cracks Down on Unauthorized Internet Connections 

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Sijia Jiang | HONG KONG – China is reinforcing its censorship of the internet with a campaign to crack down on unauthorized connections, including virtual private network (VPN) services, that allow users to bypass restrictions known as the Great Firewall.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a notice on its website on Sunday that it is launching a nationwide clean-up campaign aimed at internet service provider (ISP), internet data centrer (IDC), and content delivery network (CDN) companies.

It ordered checks for companies operating without government licenses or beyond the scope of licenses.

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The ministry said it was forbidden to create or rent communication channels, including VPNs, without governmental approval, to run cross-border operations.

VPNs can be used to gain access to blocked websites.

China has the world’s largest population of internet users – now at 731 million people – and is home to some of the biggest internet firms such as Tencent Holdings, Baidu Inc and Alibaba Group Holding. Read the rest of this entry »


中国新年: Shanghai Disney Braces for Chinese New Year Holiday

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SHANGHAI – As the Chinese New Year approaches, Shanghai Disney said Wednesday it has started bracing for its first-ever Lunar New Year with spectacular entertainment programs for visitors.

In honor of the holiday for the Year of the Rooster, the resort is presenting a spectacular series of entertainment programs, seasonal food and beverage offerings, lucky bags and holiday-themed shopping experiences, it said.

The Chinese Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, falls on Jan. 28. Chinese have a weeklong holiday for the most important festival of the year.

Throughout the Spring Festival season, the highlight in Shanghai Disneyland will be the nightly program, “Ignite the Dream: A Nighttime Spectacular of Magic and Light” followed by a special event featuring new year wishes from tourists. Read the rest of this entry »


Capital Crackdown: Companies Face Delays Getting Cash Out of China

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New regulations aimed at slowing the yuan’s decline create confusion for multinationals.

French construction-materials company Cie. de Saint-Gobain SA, is finding it harder to take its money out of China.

“The process of authorization is going to become longer now. The procedures will be controlled more strictly.”

— Javier Gimeno, head of Saint-Gobain’s China operations

The conglomerate—like all multinationals operating there—faces new delays in recent weeks as Chinese regulators impose tougher restrictions on the movement of capital out of the country to slow the yuan’s decline.

“The process of authorization is going to become longer now,” said Javier Gimeno, who heads Saint-Gobain’s China operations. “The procedures will be controlled more strictly.”

Nearly 7% of Saint-Gobain’s world-wide group sales come from Asia and Oceania, a large part of that from China. The new rules are adding confusion and anxiety to a process that had been getting much easier over the past year, he said. The shift could cause some multinationals to rethink future investments in a country where once-sure payoffs are suddenly facing an uncertain return, analysts say.

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As of late November, firms that want to exchange yuan into dollars in China now need approval for any transaction greater than $5 million. They also face tighter limits on amounts they can transfer in and out of bank accounts in China to affiliates in other countries, in a practice known as “cross-border sweeping.”

“We hear a lot questions from corporates about whether they will be able to repatriate their money in the future,” said Alexander Tietze, managing director at Acon Actienbank AG, a German bank that advises companies on Chinese investments. He expects foreign investments in China to slow, and cautioned that foreign takeovers or plans for new joint ventures could fail because of the controls.

With the Chinese economy struggling, multinationals have fewer opportunities to reinvest there, which makes it more difficult for them to do much with money trapped in China.

“A majority of clients are currently consolidating and restructuring their China business,” said Bernd-Uwe Stucken, a lawyer with Pinsent Masons LLP in Shanghai. Some clients are closing down their business, with new investments being the exception to the rule, Mr. Stucken said.

Adding to the confusion: it is unclear where the limits are, because regulators haven’t published official rule changes, but instead have given only informal guidance to banks, according to Daniel Blumen, partner at Treasury Alliance Group, a consulting firm.

Calls to the People’s Bank of China weren’t returned. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] JetPacks Are Finally Real

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It can reach an altitude of over 6,500 feet and travel at over 65 miles per hour.


Sacré Bleu! Move to Name Paris Street After Steve Jobs has French Leftists Freaking Out

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The local district mayor wants to call one of several new streets around the vast Halle Freyssinet high-tech startup hub the ‘Rue Steve Jobs’ in honor of America’s best-known Capitalist. 

PARIS (Reuters) – Geert De Clercq reports: A proposal to name a street after the late Apple Inc chief executive and co-founder Steve Jobs has divided the leftist city council of a Paris district.

“Steve Jobs was chosen because of his impact on the development of personal computing and because he was a real entrepreneur.”

— Spokeswoman for mayor Jerome Coumet

The local district mayor wants to call one of several new streets around the vast Halle Freyssinet high-tech startup hub the “Rue Steve Jobs” in honor of the U.S. inventor of the iPhone who died in 2011.

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“The choice of Steve Jobs is misplaced in light of the heritage he has left behind.”

— Communist local councillors

But Green and Communist local councillors in Paris’s 13th district don’t like the idea because of Apple’s social and fiscal practices.

“Steve Jobs was chosen because of his impact on the development of personal computing and because he was a real entrepreneur,” said a spokeswoman for mayor Jerome Coumet, defending the proposal.

She said other streets would be named after British computer scientist and code-breaker Alan Turing, UK mathematician and computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, US naval officer and computer programming pioneer Grace Murray Hopper and French civil engineer Eugene Freyssinet, who invented pre-stressed concrete.

Leftist councillors are not impressed however by Jobs’ reputation and heritage. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Internet Boom

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Online experimentation doesn’t have to be limited to tech companies.

Edward Jung It’s tempting to portray the rapid growth of the Chinese Internet as just one more example of China’s efforts to catch up with the West: Alibaba is the eBay of China, Baidu is the Google of China, Didi is the Uber of China, and so on. But China is actually conducting some fascinating experiments with the Internet (see “The Best and Worst Internet Experience in the World“). You just need to look outside the tech sector to notice them.

The most significant innovation is happening not among Chinese Internet companies but in the country’s so-called “real” economy. Corporations in old-school sectors like construction, agriculture, transportation, and banking are pursuing new business models based on big data, social media, and the Internet of things.

These are some of the largest firms of their kind in the world, yet many are young enough to be helmed by their original owner/founders. They’re like ­Rockefeller, Ford, or Carnegie with access to smartphones.

So it’s China’s largest residential-­property developer—not a tech company—that is pioneering the integration of Internet-based technology and services into fully wired communities. Vanke wants to create urban hubs that supply residents with gardens, safe food, travel, entertainment, and medical and educational services, all enabled by the Internet. Read the rest of this entry »


The Mechanics of Mechanophilia: Why Men Find Siri Sexy

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We all have relationships with tech. The question is: how far do you go?

How would you feel if you walked in on your flatmate pouring his iPhone a glass of Cristal and remarking on her exceptional ‘wallpaper’? Open mouthed and curious, right? Well, welcome to the future. For some technophiles at least.

Apart from neo-Luddites, we all have relationships with tech. The question is: how far do you go?

A survey from 2012 revealed the extreme level of attachment many of us feel towards our gadgets. It found that three-quarters of the 2,500 people polled said losing a personal device would give them more anxiety than losing a wedding ring. Another from 2016 discloses that nearly 40pc of millennials say they interact more with their smartphones than their co-workers, parents, children or friends.

Of course, such interactions could be simply checking the time – and if you started calling your friends to do that they’d think you’d gone batty – but what these stats betray is the shaping of an emotional bond between man and machine that seems to be growing year on year.

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“People use things in a sexual way all the time. You could name any object, from a radiator to a tin can, and there’s someone out there that gets sexually aroused by it.”

–Professor Mark Griffiths

Sci-fi programmes like Humans, depicting the trouble caused when overly lifelike AI get mixed in with the rest of society, may be fictional, yet our relationship with tech still gets closer and closer. Quite alarmingly close.

Virtual assistants (VA for short), also known as personal assistant A.I.s, are digital secretaries that can schedule meetings, order meals, play audio and visual files, and assess online accounts. Not to be confused with ‘virtual assistants’ that work remotely and are actual people, current VAs on the market include Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and, of course, Apple’s Siri.

“Most new technology seems to turn to porn eventually. Webcams, virtual reality, Internet etc. I see no reason why A.I won’t be included in this. It’ll certainly be cheaper to run phone sex lines with an army of bots instead of having to pay women to answer the phones.”

— Steve Worswick, an expert in the field of digital A.I

Last month, in an interview with The Times, Illy Eckstein, chief executive of Robin Labs, creators of a virtual assistant and satnav known as ‘Robin’, said that 5pc of interactions in their database are classified as “clearly sexually explicit”.

Trawling the Internet for evidence of the above I discovered a Reddit forum titled: ‘I masturbate to Siri and I feel disgusting’. The poster says he’s a 20 year old male, who started talking to Siri sexually as a joke before realising that “it really turned me on.”

The phenomenon clearly has farther reaches than one sole forum post. VA creators and chatbot companies predict such interactions and put algorithmic safeguards in place to deter feelings of emotional and sexual attachment from costumers.

[Read the full story here, at telegraph.uk]

Earlier this year one of the key writers for Microsoft’s Cortana, Deborah Harrison, revealed at the Virtual Assistant Summit in San Francisco that “a good chunk of the volume of early-on inquiries” regarded Cortana’s ‘sex life’ adding, “That’s not the kind of interaction we want to encourage.”

Steve Worswick is an expert in the field of digital A.I. He’s also the leading developer of Mitsuku, a family-friendly online chatbot.

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“Mechanophilia: love or sexual attraction to computers, cars, robots or androids, washing machines, lawnmowers and other mechanized gardening equipment, sexual relations between living organisms and machines.”

He told Telegraph Men that he used to have a banning system (five strikes and you’re out) for anyone who attempted to have sexually explicit conversations with Mitsuku. However, he received so many emails from people who wanted to treat the bot sexually, that he removed the strike system and instead programmed Mitsuku to either ignore sexual requests, say something to steer the conversation to other topics, or simply insult the user.

Worswick believes men are using Mitsuku in this way and seeing bots as “sex objects” simply because they cannot fight back, have no legal rights, and are not going to judge them or contact the authorities or their wives or girlfriends.

Read the rest of this entry »


Network Security Company CEO Forced to Resign After ‘Joking’ About Killing Trump 

U.S. President Barack Obama walks to greet well-wishers, with Secret Service agents at his side, upon his arrival in Tampa, Florida

Trump-Hating Cuckoo Bananas Matt Harrigan of PacketSled Loses His Mind, Makes Public Death Threats, Declares on Facebook, ‘Bring it, Secret Service’

[redditor chipotlemcnuggies]

 reports: Matt Harrigan, the CEO of San Diego-based network security startup PacketSled, resigned yesterday after a flurry of comments he made on Facebook went viral over the weekend, prompting the company to place him on administrative leave and to report his comments to the Secret Service. Harrigan’s comments weren’t the usual sort of executive meltdown—they amounted to a declaration that Harrigan was going to assassinate President-elect Donald Trump.

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In a Facebook thread about last week’s presidential election, Matt Harrigan wrote, “I’m going to kill the President Elect.”

“Bring it secret service,” he wrote.

While those may have been rage posts stemming from the election last week, Harrigan went on to describe how he was going to buy a sniper rifle and hunt down Trump when he moved into the White House. “Getting a sniper rifle and perching myself where it counts,” he wrote in one of a series of comments on a thread about the election. “Find a bedroom in the whitehouse [sic] that suits you motherfucker. I’ll find you.”

[Read the full story here, at Ars Technica]

The comments went viral in screenshots, being posted first on Reddit’s The_Donald subreddit. On Sunday, Harrigan apologized on his company’s blog for the comments, saying that his rant “was intended to be a joke, in the context of a larger conversation, and only privately shared as such.” Read the rest of this entry »


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Calls Company ‘People’s News Network’

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Liana B. Baker reports: Twitter Inc Chief Executive Jack Dorsey defined one of the company’s missions as being the “people’s news network,” according to an internal memo seen on Monday.

The 10-year-old social networking service has long struggled to define its core purpose and is under the spotlight as it explores selling itself in a process that has attracted potential buyers such as Salesforce.com.

Twitter has made a recent push into news and sports on mobile devices and this foray could pique the interest of a media company as an acquirer, analysts have said.

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“Twitter is what’s happening, and what everyone is talking about… News and talk. We’re the people’s news network.”

The memo does not address the sales process. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bloomberg, which first published the memo Monday, reported that it was sent to employees last week. Read the rest of this entry »


From Hiroko to Susie: The Untold Stories of Japanese War Brides

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Who are these women and what do we, their children, know about them?

Kathryn Tolbert writes: I thought she was beautiful, although I never understood why she plucked her eyebrows off and penciled them on every morning an inch higher. She had been captain of her high school basketball team in Japan, and she ran circles around us kids on a dirt court in our small town in Upstate New York. I can still see this Japanese woman dribbling madly about, yelling “Kyash! Kyash!” That’s how she said Kath, or Kathy.

[Above: Hiroko and Bill with Kathy, left, Sam and Susan. The video is the trailer to a short documentary film, “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides,” which features Hiroko and two other war brides.]

She married my American GI father barely knowing him. She moved from Tokyo to a small poultry farm just outside Elmira, N.Y., and from there she delivered eggs all over the county and into Pennsylvania. My sister describes her as having a “core of steel.” She raised us as determinedly as any mother could, and yet, looking back, I barely knew her.

Some people think the film I co-directed, “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides,” is a paean to loving Japanese mothers. When one interviewer suggested as much to me and fellow director Karen Kasmauski, we exchanged a look that said, “Shall we tell him the truth?” The film, titled after a Japanese proverb, is about strong women, for sure. Warm and loving mothers? No.

So who are these women and what do we, their children, know about them?

They are sisters and daughters of the ferocious enemy that attacked Pearl Harbor in the “day of infamy,” an enemy that surrendered four years later after waves of firebombing on Japanese cities and the dropping of atomic bombs. They married men who occupied their country and came to the United States. And then? They disappeared into America. There were tens of thousands of them, yet they vanished from public awareness — Japanese women who were barely a blip in immigration history, who married into families of North Dakota farmers, Wisconsin loggers, Rhode Island general store owners.

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

They either tried, or were pressured, to give up their Japanese identities to become more fully American. A first step was often adopting the American nicknames given them when their Japanese names were deemed too hard to pronounce or remember. Chikako became Peggy; Kiyoko became Barbara. Not too much thought went into those choices, names sometimes imposed in an instant by a U.S. officer organizing his pool of typists. My mother, Hiroko Furukawa, became Susie.

How did it feel to be renamed for someone in the man’s past, a distant relative or former girlfriend? My mother said she didn’t mind, and others said it made their lives easier to have an American name.

The brides, as many as 45,000, landed in the home towns of their husbands, places where Japanese people had been visible only on World War II propaganda posters. Was their skin really yellow? One war bride in South Carolina was asked to pull up her sleeve since no yellow was visible on her hands and wrists.

Hiroko Furukawa Tolbert, 85, mother of Kathryn Tolbert, arrived in Elmira, N.Y., in 1952. Her in-laws called her Susie. (Karen Kasmauski for The Washington Post)

My mother, once a daughter of privilege, came to her in-laws’ chicken farm. She has lived in the same two square miles of countryside ever since. It has been 64 years.

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

I read and reread the transcripts from interviews I had recorded with my mother when I was pregnant with my own daughter more than 20 years ago, when I realized I didn’t have even a timeline of her life. Six hours of tapes and they didn’t tell me what I now wanted to know. So I went back to her recently to try to understand what she could possibly have been thinking when she made the choice to marry an American soldier she barely knew. “I wasn’t thinking. I just had to get out,” was one of her succinct responses.

I didn’t know other women like her, although I had two journalist friends who were also daughters of Japanese war brides. When they proposed making a film about our mothers, I readily agreed because I had always wanted to tell her story. And she’s such an excellent raconteur that, sitting beside her in the film as her interviewer, I’m almost an unnecessary prop.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] New Features in MacOS Sierra  

Basics

  • Sierra wallpaper
  • Storage Recommendations (System Information)
  • Optimize Mac Storage (iCloud → iCloud Drive options)
  • Remove items from the Trash after 30 days
  • Desktop and Documents folder live on iCloud Drive
  • Keep folders on top when sorting by name
  • Notification Center updated design
  • Choose output from sound button in menu bar
  • Move any menu bar item
  • Prefer tabs when opening documents
  • Tabs in maps
  • Double space enters a period
  • Safari and iTunes Picture in Picture
  • Updated Console app
  • Dwell Control
  • Auto Unlock
  • APFS Apple File System
  • Universal Clipboard

Photos app

  • Memories
  • Intelligent Search
  • Places
  • People

iMessage

  • Large emoji
  • Tapback
  • Inline video playback
  • Inline links

iTunes

Read the rest of this entry »


Apple Rolls Out Swimproof ‘Apple Watch Series 2’ with White Ceramic Option, Nike+ Version, GPS, More

Apple CFO Jeff Williams has unveiled the next generation of Apple Watch on stage at its big event today.

Apple CFO Jeff Williams has unveiled the next generation of Apple Watch on stage at its big event today.

The new model is called Apple Watch Series 2. Adding to the splash proof feature of the original model, the new Apple Watch is actually swim proof. Apple Watch Series 2 adds swim tracking to the Workouts app including pool swimming and open water swimming. The Apple Watch speaker is the only unsealed part of the casing and it intelligently ejects water after a workout.

[For full coverage check back with 9to5Mac‘s ongoing announcements]

Apple Watch Series 2 features a new S2 chip with a faster dual-core processor and a new GPU with 2x graphics performance. The new display is also 2x brighter at 1000 nits, the brightest for any Apple display.

Built-in GPS is also included for outdoor running and walking without iPhone. Apple Watch Series 2 improves the pace and distant tracking and displays routes on the iPhone even when you don’t bring it along.

[More here, at 9to5Mac]

Apple Watch Series 2 adds a new ceramic (white) build option in addition to aluminum and stainless steel. Hermès is also introducing two new bands with Series 2.

Apple Watch Series 2 is also available in a new Nike+ version with a special version of the Sports band paired with the aluminum model watch. Nike+ Apple Watch is offered in four color options. Read the rest of this entry »


European Ruling against Apple and Ireland Vindicates Brexit

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The European Union has shown itself to be a compulsory tax cartel.

 writes: Taxation is bad enough: two consenting parties arrange a mutually-beneficial exchange, and an interloping third party demands a cut.

What compounded injustice then for a fourth party to enter the scene: a super-state/super-bandit who insists that the shakedown wasn’t big enough. No, the victim must hand over more to the lesser thief, even against the recipient’s will and in spite of his protest!

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Thou Shalt Not… Not Steal

Ireland must join the rest of the Union in bleeding the private sector dry.

That is what happened today when the European Commission slapped Apple Inc. with a $14.5 billion bill for back taxes, ruling that Ireland had violated European Union rules by taxing the tech company at too low a rate.

[Read the full story here, at Foundation for Economic Education]

But the Irish government doesn’t want the money! It had promised the low rates decades ago to entice Apple to set up and keep shop in Ireland, bringing the struggling country desperately needed jobs and economic growth. Irish officials are worried that if they renege on that deal, they will risk driving off the geese that lay the golden eggs: Apple, and other businesses as well.

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But no, insists the European super-state: sustainably prudent parasitism is not an option. The Irish government must join the rest of the Union in recklessly bleeding its private sector hosts dry until the whole system collapses under its own dead weight. Read the rest of this entry »


Powerful NSA Hacking Tools Have Been Revealed Online: ‘Keys to the Kingdom’

NSA headquarters. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Strings of code were released to the Internet by a group calling themselves ‘the Shadow Brokers’. They claim the code is a tool that can be used to hack into any computer. 

The cache mysteriously surfaced over the weekend and appears to be legitimate. 

Ellen Nakashima reports: Some of the most powerful espionage tools created by the National Security Agency’s elite group of hackers have been revealed in recent days, a development that could pose severe consequences for the spy agency’s operations and the security of government and corporate computers.

“Faking this information would be monumentally difficult, there is just such a sheer volume of meaningful stuff. Much of this code should never leave the NSA.”

— Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California at Berkeley

A cache of hacking tools with code names such as Epicbanana, Buzzdirection and Egregiousblunder appeared mysteriously online over the weekend, setting the security world abuzz with speculation over whether the material was legitimate.

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The file appeared to be real, according to former NSA personnel who worked in the agency’s hacking division, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO).

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

“Without a doubt, they’re the keys to the kingdom,” said one former TAO employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal operations. “The stuff you’re talking about would undermine the security of a lot of major government and corporate networks both here and abroad.”

Said a second former TAO hacker who saw the file: “From what I saw, there was no doubt in my mind that it was legitimate.”

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“Without a doubt, they’re the keys to the kingdom. The stuff you’re talking about would undermine the security of a lot of major government and corporate networks both here and abroad.”

Strings of code were released to the Internet by a group calling themselves “the Shadow Brokers”. They claim the code is a tool that can be used to hack into any computer.

The file contained 300 megabytes of information, including several “exploits,” or tools for taking control of firewalls in order to control a network, and a number of implants that might, for instance, exfiltrate or modify information.

The exploits are not run-of-the-mill tools to target everyday individuals. They are expensive software used to take over firewalls, such as Cisco and Fortinet, that are used “in the largest and most critical commercial, educational and government agencies around the world,” said Blake Darche, another former TAO operator and now head of security research at Area 1 Security.

The software apparently dates back to 2013 and appears to have been taken then, experts said, citing file creation dates, among other things.

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“The tools were posted by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers using file-sharing sites such as BitTorrent and DropBox.”

“What’s clear is that these are highly sophisticated and authentic hacking tools,” said Oren Falkowitz, chief executive of Area 1 Security and another former TAO employee.

Several of the exploits were pieces of computer code that took advantage of “zero-day” or previously unknown flaws or vulnerabilities in firewalls, which appear to be unfixed to this day, said one of the former hackers.

The disclosure of the file means that at least one other party — possibly another country’s spy agency — has had access to the same hacking tools used by the NSA and could deploy them against organizations that are using vulnerable routers and firewalls. It might also see what the NSA is targeting and spying on. And now that the tools are public, as long as the flaws remain unpatched, other hackers can take advantage of them, too.

The judge says the government learned from its mistakes on 9/11. | AP Photo

“The disclosure of the file means that at least one other party — possibly another country’s spy agency — has had access to the same hacking tools used by the NSA and could deploy them against organizations that are using vulnerable routers and firewalls. It might also see what the NSA is targeting and spying on. And now that the tools are public, as long as the flaws remain unpatched, other hackers can take advantage of them, too.”

The NSA did not respond to requests for comment.

“Faking this information would be monumentally difficult, there is just such a sheer volume of meaningful stuff,” Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, said in an interview. “Much of this code should never leave the NSA.”

The tools were posted by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers using file-sharing sites such as BitTorrent and DropBox. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] More Leaked DNC Data Coming 

Congressional Democrats are scrambling to assess the scope of an unprecedented leak that revealed the personal data of nearly 200 current and former House Democrats, and they are bracing for more leaked data. Iconic Security CEO Adam Ghetti joins Lunch Break and explains how the FBI deals with data breaches.

pelosi-incandescentspy-data-nsa-gop-nro Read the rest of this entry »


Oddly, No Emails Found for Hillary Clinton’s Senior IT Staffer at State Department 

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton adjusts her make-up before speaking at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame dinner in Cedar Rapids

Justin Fishel reports: The State Department said today it can’t find Bryan Pagliano’s emails from the time he served as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s senior information technology staffer during her tenure there.

Pagliano would have been required to turn over any official communications from his work account before he left the government. State Department officials say he had an official email account, but that they can’t find any of those records he would have turned over and continue to search for them.

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“It’s hard to believe that an IT staffer who set up Hillary Clinton’s reckless email server never sent or received a single work-related email in the four years he worked at the State Department. Such records might shed light on his role in setting up Clinton’s server, and why he was granted immunity by the FBI. But it seems that his emails were either destroyed or never turned over, adding yet another layer to the secrecy surrounding his role.”

— Raj Shah, RNC’s Deputy Communications Director

“The Department has searched for Mr. Pagliano’s email pst file and has not located one that covers the time period of Secretary Clinton’s tenure,” State Department spokesman Elizabeth Trudeau said today, referencing a file format that holdsPANTSUIT-REPORT email.

“To be clear, the Department does have records related to Mr. Pagliano and we are working with Congress and [Freedom of Information Act] requesters to provide relevant material. The Department has located a pst from Mr. Pagliano’s recent work at the Department as a contractor, but the files are from after Secretary Clinton left the Department,” Trudeau added.

After this story was posted, Trudeau reached out to ABC News, amending her previous statement to say that despite the absence of his original pst file, some small amount of Pagliano’s email has been recovered, suggesting they were gleaned from other email accounts. Read the rest of this entry »


It’s Time To Do Something About China’s Internet Censorship

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Just last week, Beijing further tightened the screws on US companies when it imposed a ban on Apple’s online book and film services. The order came as part of a broader set of regulations, introduced in March, which established strict curbs on all online publishing.

Claude Barfield writes: For the first time this year, the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR’s) “National Trade Estimate Report” took note of China’s Great Firewall. Granted, it was with this tame statement: “China’s filtering of cross-border Internet traffic has posed a significant burden to foreign suppliers.” The report did not indicate what steps, if any, the US plans to take against the People’s Republic of China’s heavy-handed and economically damaging censorship regime. But it is high time for the US, possibly in conjunction with other major trading partners, to test the legality of China’s sweeping Internet censorship system.

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The nature of Chinese censorship

Chinese online censorship operations are not new, and they have been well-documented for over a decade. But the situation has grown worse since President Xi Jinping took office in 2012. Today, the USTR reports that eight of the 25 most trafficked websites worldwide are currently blocked by the Chinese government. Especially targeted are popular search engines such as Google, as well as user-generated content platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. Sometimes, the blockade is permanent — Google formally withdrew from China in 2010 — but more often it is intermittent and random, as has occurred with increasing frequency with Gmail and Hotmail. The New York Times has been banned since 2012, and recently (as a result of reporting on the misdeeds of President Xi’s relatives) the Economist and Time magazine have also secured spots on the honored block list. Just last week, Beijing further tightened the screws on US companies when it imposed a ban on Apple’s online book and film services. The order came as part of a broader set of regulations, introduced in March, which established strict curbs on all online publishing.

censorship

In many cases, the filters and blocks carry with them a strong whiff of industrial policy. The now-giant Chinese firm Baidu received a huge boost when Google was forced to withdraw from the Chinese market (Baidu stock shot up 16 percent the day Google announced its withdrawal). Sina’s Weibo and Tencent’s QQ are direct competitors to popular blocked websites such as Twitter and Facebook. Read the rest of this entry »


Meet the Company Offering a Chance at Immortality for $200,000

Frozen Brain

More and more people are signing up to be frozen for a chance at life after death. So the question is, would you?

 writes: In the desert climate of Scottsdale, Arizona, rest 147 brains and bodies, all frozen in liquid nitrogen with the goal of being revived one day.

It’s not science fiction — to some it might not even be science — yet thousands of people around the world have put their trust, lives and fortunes into the promise of cryonics, the practice of preserving a body with antifreeze shortly after death in hopes future medicine might be able to bring the deceased back.

Mad-Science

“If you think back half a century or so, if somebody stopped breathing and their heart stopped beating we would’ve checked them and said they’re dead,” said Max More, CEO of the Scottsdale-based Alcor. “Our view is that when we call someone dead it’s a bit of an arbitrary line. In fact they are in need of a rescue.”

That “rescue” begins the moment a doctor declares a patient dead. Alcor’s team then prepares an ice bath and begins administering 16 medications and variations of antifreeze until the patient’s temperature drops to near freezing.

Alcor CEO Max More poses in front of the dewars that house his 147 cryopreserved patients.

Alcor CEO Max More poses in front of the dewars that house his 147 cryopreserved patients. Qin Chen | CNBC

“The critical thing is how fast we get to someone and how quickly we start the cooling process,” More said. In order to ensure that can happen, Alcor stations equipped teams in the U.K., Canada and Germany and offers members a $10,000 incentive to legally die in Scottsdale, where the record for getting a patient cooled down and prepped for an operation is 35 minutes.

Next, a contracted surgeon removes a patient’s head if the member selected Alcor’s “Neuro” option, as it’s euphemistically called, in hopes that a new body can be grown with a member’s DNA once it comes time to be thawed out. It’s also the much cheaper route. At a price tag of $80,000, it’s less than half the cost of preserving your whole body. “That requires a minimum of $200,000, which isn’t as much as it sounds, because most people pay with life insurance,” More said.

Alcor-3

In fact, such a business model is pretty consistent in the nonprofit cryonics community. Michigan-based Cryonics Institute offers a similar payment structure, albeit at the more affordable cost of just $28,000 for whole-body preservation. Which begs the question: Why the price discrepancy?

“We’ve been very conservative in the way we plan the financing,” More said. “Of that $200,000, about $115,000 of it goes into the patient care trust fund,” which is meant to cover eventual costs and is controlled by a board of trustees (a certain number of which is required to have loved ones currently in cryopreservation). More says the trust currently boasts a total of over $10 million, which is supported by Alcor’s most recent nonprofit 990 filings.

Who is doing this?

When More came to the U.S. in 1986 from Britain to train at Alcor, it was run by volunteers and he signed up as Alcor’s 67th member. Since then, the company has hired a full-time staff of eight employees, boosted its membership to more than 1,000, and is looking into doubling the size of its patient care bay.

Read the rest of this entry »


Justice Department to Apple: ‘Never Mind’

Tim Cook

The Justice Department is expected to withdraw from its legal action against Apple, as soon as today, as an outside method to bypass the locking function of a San Bernardino terrorist’s phone has proved successful, a federal law enforcement official said Monday.

AP-San-Bernardino-Attack

[Read the full story here, at USAToday]

The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said the method brought to the FBI earlier this month by an unidentified entity allows investigators to crack the security function without erasing contents of the iPhone used by Syed Farook, who with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, carried out the December mass shooting that left 14 dead.

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Monday’s withdrawal would culminate six weeks of building tensions.

The foes were poised to exchange legal body blows in a court room in Riverside, Calif., last week before the Justice Department belatedly asked for — and was granted — a postponement.

“It’s not about one phone. It’s very much about the future. You have a guy in Manhattan saying I’ve got a hundred and seventy-five phones that I want to take through this process. You’ve got other cases springing up all over the place where they want phones taken through the process. So it’s not about one phone, and they know it’s not about one phone.”

— Apple CEO Tim Cook, in an interview with Time last week.

Since a federal magistrate in California in mid-February ordered the company to assist the FBI in gaining access to San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook’s seized iPhone, the legal filings and rhetoric between the world’s most valuable technology company and one of the largest crime-fighting organizations in the world had sharpened into verbal vitriol.

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This month, Apple said the “Founding Fathers would be appalled” because the government’s order to unlock the iPhone was based on non-existent authority asserted by the DOJ. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Chilling Effect’ of Mass Surveillance Is Silencing Dissent Online, Study Says 

censord

A new study shows people may be censoring themselves without realizing it.

Nafeez Ahmed reports: Thanks largely to whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, most Americans now realize that the intelligence community monitors and archives all sorts of online behaviors of both foreign nationals and US citizens.

But did you know that the very fact that you know this could have subliminally censored-hand-overstopped you from speaking out online on issues you care about?

“What this research shows is that in the presence of surveillance, our country’s most vulnerable voices are unwilling to express their beliefs online.”

Now research suggests that widespread awareness of such mass surveillance could undermine democracy by making citizens fearful of voicing dissenting opinions in public.

paper published last week in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, the flagship peer-reviewed journal of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), found that “the government’s online surveillance programs may threaten the disclosure of minority views and contribute to the reinforcement of majority opinion.”

The NSA’s “ability to surreptitiously monitor the online activities of US citizens may make online opinion climates especially chilly” and “can contribute to the silencing of minority views that provide the bedrock of democratic discourse,” the researcher found.

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The paper is based on responses to an online questionnaire from a random sample of 255 people, selected to mimic basic demographic distributions across the US population.

[Read the full story here, at Motherboard]

Participants were asked to answer questions relating to media use, political attitudes, and personality traits. Different subsets of the sample were exposed to different messaging on US government surveillance to test their responses to the same fictional Facebook post about the US decision to continue airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

They were then asked about their willingness to express their opinions about this publicly—including how they would respond on Facebook to the post; how strongly they personally supported or opposed continued airstrikes; their perceptions of the views of other Americans; and whether they supported or opposed online surveillance. Read the rest of this entry »


The Hill: ‘We Buried the Lede’

bury-lede-Dems-FBI

The aggressive posture is becoming a political problem for the White House. Comey’s investigation of Hillary Clinton is becoming a political problem for the White House.

Source: TheHill


Leaked Images Claim to Show iPhone SE Display, Confirm Lack of 3D Touch Support 

Chance Miller reports: Earlier this week we shared drawings of Apple’s upcoming 4-inch device and reported that Apple plans to call the device the iPhone SE. Now, French site NowhereElse has shared images that claim to show the front display portion of the upcoming device. We’ve long reported that the iPhone SE won’t feature support for 3D Touch, and these images corroborate that.

3D Touch, a flagship feature of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, works by taking advantage of a pair of capacitive touch sensors beneath the display. As you can see in the image above, which shows the iPhone SE next to the iPhone 6s, the smaller device lacks the sensors necessary to support 3D Touch.

[Read the full story here, at 9to5Mac]

Other than the lack of 3D Touch, the leaked images don’t appear to show too much about the iPhone SE. 3D Touch was one of the features highlighted the most when Apple announced the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus last year. The company also touted Live Photos, a feature that the smaller iPhone SE is expected to offer. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] WOZICON: Apple Co-founder Starts Silicon Valley Comic Con

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak had a front-row seat as the personal computer began to reshape society, so it made perfect sense to him to bring a convention meshing technology with pop culture to Silicon Valley.


Apple to Judge: Drop Dead! 

Where would you draw the line between liberty and security?

Stephen Green writes: Here’s the setup.

San Bernardino killer Syed Rizwan Farook owned an iPhone 5c, which may have been used — probably was used — in planning and perhaps even executing the holiday party terror attack with his wife, Tashfeen Malik.

That iPhone 5c, just like any other up-to-do-date iOS or Android smartphone, has disc-level encryption baked into the OS for users who want that level of privacy, for good or for ill.

Yesterday,U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple to bypass the phone’s security functions, and furthermore “to provide related technical assistance and to build special software that would essentially act as a skeleton key capable of unlocking the phone.”

[Read the full story here, at PJ Media]

Here’s what happened next:

Hours later, in a statement by its chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, Apple announced its refusal to comply. The move sets up a legal showdown between the company, which says it is eager to protect the privacy of its customers, and the law enforcement authorities, who assert that new encryption technologies hamper their ability to prevent and solve crime.In his statement, Mr. Cook called the court order an “unprecedented step” by the federal government. “We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand,” he wrote.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond publicly to Apple’s resistance.

The F.B.I. said its experts had been unable to access data on the iPhone 5c and that only Apple could bypass its security features. F.B.I. experts have said they risk losing the data permanently after 10 failed attempts to enter the password because of the phone’s security features.

The Justice Department had secured a search warrant for the phone, owned by Mr. Farook’s former employer, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, which consented to the search.

Because Apple declined to voluntarily provide, in essence, the “keys” to its encryption technology, federal prosecutors said they saw little choice but to get a judge to compel Apple’s assistance.

Mr. Cook said the order amounted to creating a “back door” to bypass Apple’s strong encryption standards — “something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create.”

Security hawks are on solid ground when they worry (as I do) that Farook’s encrypted iPhone might contain data valuable to government efforts to stop future terror attacks on U.S. soil, or to aid intel efforts to locate, track, and kill Farook’s ISIS contacts overseas.

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But that’s not the only worry, as Doug Mataconis explains:

From Apple’s point of view, there seem to be a myriad of issues motivating the decision to take what has the potential to be an unpopular decision given the circumstances of this case. First of all, there is the fact that ever since the company made the decision to strengthen security on its phones in a manner that essentially allows customers to encrypt data in a manner that makes it nearly impossible to access without the appropriate pass code, the concerns about data security have only become more prominent and that providing a backdoor that does not exist right now would only serve to make the data itself less secure overall. Second, as the Post article notes the use of the All Writs Act in this manner appears to be unprecedented and, if upheld, would essentially allow the government to do almost anything in the name of law enforcement and intelligence gathering. Finally, and perhaps most strongly, it’s important to note that law enforcement isn’t asking Apple to provide information that it already has, which is what an ordinary search warrant does. It is essentially asking a Federal Court to compel Apple to do something, in this case create a backdoor that does not exist. This arguably falls well outside the scope of the Fourth Amendment and, if upheld, would give law enforcement authority to compel technology companies to do almost anything conceivable in the name of a purported investigation or surveillance of a target. That seems to go well beyond what the Constitution and existing law permits law enforcement to do.

Read the rest of this entry »


Apple Reports Slowing Growth for iPhone Sales

tim-cook-apple-NYT

SAN FRANCISCO —Katie Benner reports: Apple’s iPhone has officially entered a slow-growth period.

Apple on Tuesday said that it sold 74.8 million iPhones in its fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 26, up less than 1 percent from the 74.5 million sold a year ago. That represented the slowest year-over-year rate of growth for the device since it was introduced in 2007.

“There will be some speed bumps ahead until we get to the iPhone 7 mega-product cycle later this year.”

— Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets

The iPhone, Apple’s flagship product, is closely watched by investors because the smartphone accounts for two-thirds of the company’s annual revenue.

In total, Apple’s revenue for the quarter was $75.9 billion, up 1.7 percent from a year ago, and lower than Wall Street forecasts of $76.6 billion. Net profit was $18.4 billion, up from $18 billion a year earlier.

Apple’s rate of growth is not set to improve anytime soon. The company, based in Cupertino, Calif., also issued a lower-than-anticipated forecast for the current quarter, which ends in March. Apple projected revenue of $50 billion to $53 billion, down from $58 billion from a year earlier and lower than the $55.4 billion forecast by Wall Street, according to S&P Capital IQ.

The results and forecast reflect how Apple, under its chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, is grappling with becoming a maturing tech company. While Apple once delivered high double-digit revenue gains on the back of soaring sales of the iPhone and other devices, growth rates have slowed as the iPhone has begun saturating the market and the company has not introduced a new blockbuster device.

Investors are already treating Apple more like a value stock than a growth stock, associating the company with predictable business results and a reliable dividend rather than runaway revenue growth.

In the period leading up to the earnings announcement, investors had lowered expectations for the quarter based on the belief that demand for Apple’s latest iPhones, the 6S and 6S Plus, had been weak. Read the rest of this entry »


OH NO THEY DIDN’T: Apple Has Dumped $100B in Market Value in Past Month 

Tim Cook

Apple Inc. AAPL, -4.22%   shares fell below $100 for the first time in 15 months, gripped by Thursday’s sharp market declines and signs of slowing growth in the two pillars of the company’s recent success: the iPhone and China.

“Signs of weakness in the iPhone, its best-selling and most profitable product, come after new, larger-screen models propelled Apple to record results in its fiscal year ended Sept. 26.”

The Cupertino, Calif., company’s 4.2% drop on the day was greater than the overall market’s slide and the 3% slump in the Nasdaq Composite, which closed down 10% from its May peak. Since early December, Apple has shed $100 billion in market value.

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Buoyed by China’s rising middle class, Apple’s Greater China sales in that period grew 84%, and the company overall posted revenue of $233 billion for the year. Now, both of those growth engines appear at risk.”

Signs of weakness in the iPhone, its best-selling and most profitable product, come after new, larger-screen models propelled Apple to record results in its fiscal year ended Sept. 26. Buoyed by China’s rising middle class, Apple’s Greater China sales in that period grew 84%, and the company overall posted revenue of $233 billion for the year.

[An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.]

Now, both of those growth engines appear at risk. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Apple has cut order forecasts to iPhone suppliers in recent months, according to people familiar with the matter. And China’s economy is slowing sharply, dramatized by plunging stock markets. Read the rest of this entry »


China is Putting Tighter Controls on Online Mapping Services 

china-propaganda-apple-iPad

New regulations could make it harder than ever for Google to re-enter the world’s largest market.

David Z. Morris reports: In rules released this week, China’s State Council announced that all digital maps provided in China be stored on servers within its borders. The rules, which also lay out certification standards for digital mapping providers, will go into effect Jan. 1.

“Keeping map servers within China would, in theory, give its government even more control over what its citizens see. But the move is arguably redundant—China has long held mapping services to strict content standards, and blocks those that don’t comply.”

According to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, the purpose of the new regulations is to “boost development of the geographic information industry” and safeguard “national sovereignty and geographic information security.”

“Google has since made moderate concessions in its representation of Chinese borders on maps accessed from outside of the country, changing the names of disputed regions and depiction of Chinese borders with India and the Philippines”

The rules seem much heavier on tightening control than on boosting development. In addition to the server location requirements, map providers are prohibited both from displaying or even storing any data deemed to be prohibited by the government. Government officials will be able to regularly inspect data for “errors and leaks of information that threaten national sovereignty,” according to Xinhua. Read the rest of this entry »


Virtual Reality Gets Real 

It’s been around for decades, but virtual reality has been anything but real for most people. That’s about to change as a slew of new virtual-reality technologies get set to tempt your walletSome of them are even available in time for this year’s holidays.

[See the VIDEO here]

This is Scientific American’s 60-Second Science. I’m Larry Greenemeier. Got a minute? Virtual reality started off as a way for scientists to visualize their research. Ken Perlin, a computer science professor and pioneer in the field of virtual reality, explains:

[Ken Perlin:] The first people who seriously developed virtual reality were Ivan Sutherland and his student Bob Sproull back in 1968. They built a very large device, which they nicknamed the “Sword of Damocles” because it was a very large contraption that hung over your head and carried the headset with it as it moved around on a giant boom arm.”

The latest generation of VR technology is a little different. Some new consumer headsets, including Samsung’s Gear VR and even Google’s very basic Cardboard visor rely on your smartphone.

New gadgets expected to launch in 2016 will be a bit more sophisticated.

[Perlin:] “The major commercial releases of virtual reality that will appear in the first half of 2016 track your head, and they track your two hands.

[Perlin:] “In order to have a full social experience with other people of being in a world together, you also need to know where your feet are. Once you know your head and your hands and your feet, then you can build a computer graphic representation of everybody.”

This version promises to address a major problem the technology faced in the past.

[Perlin:] “Motion sickness was a problem when the delay between my head movement and the graphics that I saw exceeded a certain threshold, generally about a 10th of a second. Modern technologies that make use of these inertial trackers in the headsets have pretty much gotten rid of that.”

Virtual reality will first invade our homes offices and classroomsthrough games and educational tools. But Perlin thinks the technology will become much more than that over time. Read the rest of this entry »


British Government Considering Giving iPads to Inmates for Education & Video Chat

Ben Lovejoy reports: The British government is considering a proposal to give iPads to prison inmates so that they can continue their education when confined to their cells, and also keep in touch with family members via FaceTime and Skype.

The Telegraph reports that the recommendation was made by an adviser to the Ministry of Justice, and is being considered by Justice Minister Michael Gove. A spokesman said that the government wanted to improve educational opportunities so that prisoners were less likely to re-offend following their release.

There does appear to be some support for the idea…

The plan is being considered by Dame Sally Coates, a former headteacher who is conducting a review of education in prisons for Mr Gove….(read more)

Source: 9to5Mac


Google Exploring Shanghai’s Free-Trade Zone

Companies such as Amazon and Apple use Shanghai’s free-trade zone to run some of their value-added services in China, due to the area’s looser rules on foreign capital.

Yang Jie reports: The jury is still out on the business benefits of Shanghai’s free-trade zone— but one notable U.S. tech giant is among the firms that has dipped a toe into the pilot area’s waters.

“The free-trade zone’s rules make it easier for foreign companies to run e-commerce operations, for example. But they have little benefit when it comes to activities such as Internet search and e-mail, which are dependent on the location of the server and the storage of data”

Google, of Mountain View, Calif., set up a company in Shanghai’s pioneer free-trade zone last year, according to online filings reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Companies such as Amazon and Apple use Shanghai’s free-trade zone to run some of their value-added services in China, due to the area’s looser rules on foreign capital and greater freedom in terms of industries that foreign businesses can participate in.

The free-trade zone’s rules make it easier for foreign companies to run e-commerce operations, for example. But they have little benefit when it comes to activities such as Internet search and e-mail, which are dependent on the location of the server and the storage of data, according to people familiar with the matter.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the issue. The company’s establishment was first reported on Monday by The Paper, a Shanghai-based media outlet.
Read the rest of this entry »


Andrew C. McCarthy: What Americans Need to Know About the Encryption Debate

In the surveillance area, I believe the public is mostly wrong.

Andrew C. McCarthy writes: Should private companies that provide users with encryption technology be required to assist law-enforcement and intelligence services to defeat that technology? This question is a more pressing one in the wake of November’s Paris terrorist attacks. But it is a very tough question that has vexed both the government and providers of communications services for years.

“The problem is that encryption technology has gotten very tough to crack and very widely available. Consequently, if terrorists or other high-level criminals are using it to carry out schemes that endanger the public, government agents cannot penetrate the communications in real time.”

Part of what makes it so difficult is the new facts of life. As I noted during the debate over the NSA’s bulk-collection of telephone metadata, we are operating in a political environment that is night-and-day different from the aftermath of 9/11. Back then, a frightened public was demanding that the government do a better job of collecting intelligence and thwarting terrorist plots. Of course that sentiment was driven by the mass-murder of nearly 3,000 Americans, coupled with the destruction of the World Trade Center and a strike against the Pentagon. But it also owed in no small measure to the fact that government had done such an incompetent job gathering and “connecting the dots” prior to the attacks. There was a strong public sense that intelligence agencies needed an injection of muscle.

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“That they have a legal basis to conduct surveillance is beside the point; all the probable cause in the world won’t help an agent who lacks the know-how to access what he’s been authorized to search.”

Today, the public’s sense tends in the other direction. There have been spectacular abuses of government power (e.g., IRS scandal), and intrusive security precautions infused by political correctness (e.g., airport searches). Americans understandably suspect that government cannot be trusted with enhanced authorities and that many of its tactics are more about the appearance of security than real security.

[Read the full story here, at PJ Media]

It is, moreover, no longer sufficient for the national-security right to posit that security measures pass legal muster. The public wants proof that these measures actually and meaningfully improve our security, regardless of whether they are justifiable as a matter of law.

This makes it a very uphill environment in which to suggest, as FBI Director Jim Comey has recently done, that communications providers should provide the government with keys to unlocking their encryption technology – encryption-key repositories or what is often called “backdoor” access.

Shutterstock

The problem is that encryption technology has gotten very tough to crack and very widely available. Consequently, if terrorists or other high-level criminals are using it to carry out schemes that endanger the public, government agents cannot penetrate the communications in real time. That they have a legal basis to conduct surveillance is beside the point; all the probable cause in the world won’t help an agent who lacks the know-how to access what he’s been authorized to search. Read the rest of this entry »


What If You Build It – and They Don’t Come? Send the Bill to the Taxpayers

So-called progressives have no problem taking from the working class to give to the rich – so long as it’s the rich of their choosing… via L.A. Liberty

The Fisker Karma is Back

What if you build it – and they don’t come?

Send the bill to the taxpayers!

Twice.

This is how you make money in the New America. Well, the green America.

Don’t earn it.

Steal it.

The “business model” is simple enough: Glom on to a politically high-fashion issue – electric cars, for instance. Then obtain government (meaning, taxpayer) “help” to fund their design and manufacture. When no one – or not enough – people buy your electric wunderwagen, simple declare bankruptcy and walk away.

With your pockets full of other people’s money.

Then, when the smoke clears, do it again.

This is exactly what electric car company Fisker – which produces (well, produced) the $110,000 Fisker Karma – did.

And is getting ready to do a second time.

Back in ’09, the company secured $529 million in government loans, which were being doled out generously by the Obama administration (and previously by the Bush administration) under the auspices of something called the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.

Well, “loan” is not exactly accurate – because the government doesn’t really have any money of its own to loan. It only has the money it takes from you and me others via taxation. So what really happened is that the government forced the taxpayers of the United States to loan Fisker $529 million. (It also forced the taxpayers to “help” fund another electric boondoggle, the infamous – but now forgotten – Solyndra debacle.)

Fisker, like Tesla, specializes in high-dollar electric exotic cars that – so far – have not earned an honest dollar but have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions. Billions, actually. The reason for this ought to be obvious – no engineering degree required.

Electric cars make sense when they are economical cars.

To date, no one has managed to manufacture one. They cost more – overall – to own than conventional cars and they also (unlike conventional cars) have functional liabilities that include long recharge times and limited range. Rather than focus on – and fix – these issues, which might make for a marketplace-viable electric car, manufacturers like Fisker and Tesla build high-performance, flashy and very, very expensive electric cars. On the theory that sex appeal rather than economic sense will sell ’em. … [B]uying a Fisker or a Tesla literally triples or quadruples the cost of driving.

Yes, yes, the cars are sleek and sexy – and even quick.

Which is as relevant insofar as the bottom-line purpose of an electric car… People in a position to buy a six-figure Fisker Karma (like the actor Leonardo diCaprio, for instance) are not struggling to pay their fuel bills.They buy a Fisker or a Tesla as a fashion statement.

But the people who are concerned about gas bills aren’t in the market for a six-figure Fisker.

Hence the need for government “help.”

When you can’t sell ’em, force others to subsidize ’em. Read the rest of this entry »


Back-Alley Upgrades: In China, $100 Can Get You an 128GB iPhone Boost

Commuters use smartphone

In China’s unbridled marketplace, you can pay $5 for soap made from human breast milk, $800 to take a cosmetics CEO out during Christmas and $430,000 for a purple Bentley convertible once owned by a corrupt official.

If you’re an Apple Inc. device user, you can also now boost your iPhone’s storage from the cramped-feeling 16GB standard to a cavernous 128GB for less than a hundred bucks.

breastfeeding

Mobile phone repair shops in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai have sparked curiosity on sidewalks and social media by offering the service, which appears aimed at the many aspirational Chinese device users who can’t afford the roughly $200 premium attached to large-capacity iPhones….(read more)

Source: China Real Time Report – WSJ


[VIDEO] Apple’s New Cupertino Campus Construction Shown in Drone Video

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said the new Cupertino, Calif., campus would house 12,000 employees when he presented the idea in 2011. Drone footage shows that the 2.8-million-square-foot spaceship-like office complex is now taking shape. Photo/Video: YouTube/Duncan Sinfield


China Censors Your Internet

censorship

In The Wall Street Journal, Information Age columnist Gordon Crovitz writes about how China censors your Internet—Beijing thinks Taylor Swift’s “1989” is code for Tiananmen Square and must be blocked….(read more)

Source: WSJ


‘Future Teardown’ of an Apple Car Shows Us Who Could be Making the Various Elements 

Ben Lovejoy reports: While we can’t say for sure that an Apple Car will ever go on sale, it’s a certainty by this point that the company is devoting substantial development resources to the project. Tim Cook said recently that there would be “massive change” in the car industry, and that “autonomous driving becomes much more important.”

But as a recent opinion piece on sister site Electrek argued, and Elon Musk warned, actually manufacturing a car is massively more complex than making consumer electronics devices. Apple will therefore be looking for partners to pull together different elements of the car. Re/code has put together an interesting look at the most likely candidates …

None of the companies would comment on any conversations they have with the Cupertino giant about their own cars. None of them flat-out denied those conversations, either. Google, Tesla and Apple all declined to comment.

The list below is not exhaustive. Yet after conversations with nearly a dozen manufacturers, industry experts and tech companies involved in the world of self-driving cars, Re/code assembled a portrait of the leading, innovative companies and critical dynamics in the autonomous industry.

The exterior of the car could, it suggests, be made by five companies: Roush, Delphi, Edison2, Atieva and Renovo Motors. The first of those, Roush, is a Michigan-based “boutique automotive supplier” which already has one key claim to credibility in the field: it assembled the exterior for Google’s prototype self-driving cars.

[Read the full story here, at 9to5Mac]

Renovo recently teamed-up with engineers from Stanford University to create a self-driving electric DeLorean capable of donuts and drifting. While it was of course a PR stunt, you need some impressive tech to pull it off. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Steve Jobs’ Bombs at Box Office: ‘What Went Wrong’, the Industry Version

Brent Lang writes: When Amy Pascal allowed “Steve Jobs” to leave Sony for Universal, the studio chief fretted that she had let a modern day “Citizen Kane” slip through her fingers.

“There was an over-inflated sense of how well this film could do. Its only chance now is to gain awards traction.”

— Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations

The strikingly literate biopic about the Apple co-founder was brilliant she noted, but after Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale passed on the title role, it lacked a major star, limiting its commercial prospects. In the end, Pascal, whose job was already threatened by a string of flops like  “After Earth” and “White House Down,” couldn’t justify the risk.

Fast-forward nearly a year. Pascal is out of a job, “Steve Jobs” has debuted to rapturous reviews, and the film is a strong Oscar contender. It’s every bit as good as Pascal thought it would be, but the then Sony chief’s wariness also appears to have been entirely justified.

Steve Jobs” was too brainy, too cold, and too expensive to make it a success. Moreover, Michael Fassbender, the electrifying Irish actor who replaced Bale as Jobs, lacks the drawing power to open the picture.

Too ‘brainy, too cold, too expensive’ to make it a success? Oh, please. I prefer John Nolte’s analysis:

Everything other than the father-daughter story is subplot, and this wouldn’t be terribly interesting even if it were true.  But it’s not true. Sorkin made it all up. Also fabricated is the central conflict between Jobs and Wozniak. Missing is Jobs’ legendary ability to inspire greatness from those around him. Jobs was no angel, few successful people are, but this still feels like a smear job.

Basically, Sorkin used the name Steve Jobs and the historical beats of the man’s life to tell a fictional story about a bunch of rich white people, their personal problems and eccentricities and hang-ups….(read more)

Brietbart.com

After racking up the year’s best per-screen average  in its opening weekend and doing strong business in limited expansion, “Steve Jobs” hit a stumbling block in its national release. It debuted to a measly $7.3 million, only a little more than the $6.7 million that “Jobs,” a critically derided film about the iPhone father with Ashton Kutcher, made in its initial weekend. Going into the weekend, some tracking suggested that the picture would do as much as $19 million.

So what went wrong?

Universal believes that the picture can recover. Studio executives note that it is popular in major urban markets like San Francisco and New York, and argue that the film’s A minus CinemaScore means word-of-mouth will be strong. If it can stay in theaters until Golden Globe and Oscar nominations are announced, they believe it can rebound.

“We are going to continue to support the film in the markets where it is showing strength and we’re going to continue to do it aggressively and proactively,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s domestic distribution chief. “The critics are there for it and the buzz in these markets is strong.”

It’s still hard to see how the film turns a profit. Read the rest of this entry »